Manage Your Latex Allergy With The Support Of Medical Professionals
An allergy to latex may not always be life-threatening but it can make certain parts of everyday life more challenging. It may affect your job and can have an effect on your health if not managed properly.
Fortunately today, you can maintain your wellbeing and avoid allergic reactions through expert-led immunotherapy treatment. Discover how it may help you lead a potentially safer and healthier life today.
Irritant Dermatitis Is The Most Common Adverse Reaction To Latex
Most adverse reactions to latex are irritant dermatitis, which is not an immediate allergic reaction. It results in rough, dry and scaly skin, sometimes with weeping sores. It is made worse by sweating and friction under rubber gloves, but can also occur from frequent hand washing with harsh soaps.
Even though irritant dermatitis is not an allergic reaction, absorption of latex through damaged skin increases the risk of developing latex allergy with ongoing exposure. Recognition and treatment of this condition is therefore recommended to reduce the risk of developing latex allergy.
What Is Latex Allergy
Latex is a milky fluid which is found in several plants including spurges and poppies. Latex collected from a rubber tree tends to be the core source of natural rubber. The medical term latex allergy is the bodys reaction to specific proteins that are found in latex. In case of having latex allergy, the body treats latex as a dangerous substance.
In addition to this, latex allergy can root allergic reactions that may range from mild skin irritation to a serious reaction called anaphylaxis. One can simply prevent the bodys reaction by identifying the sources of latex and avoiding them!
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What Are Symptoms Of Latex Allergy
Latex allergy symptoms range from skin irritation to respiratory symptoms to life-threatening anaphylaxis and theres no way to predict which will occur if exposed.
Symptoms of latex allergy may be mild at first, progressing to more serious types of symptoms.
Symptoms of latex allergy include:
- skin redness
A latex allergy reaction can also result in anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Symptoms can start within seconds of exposure to latex or may not appear until hours later. The allergic reaction can be different each time a person experiences anaphylaxis and can vary in severity each time. Once the reaction starts, it usually progresses quickly. This makes identifying anaphylaxis and responding to care tricky at times.
A board-certified healthcare professional, often an allergist, makes the diagnosis of latex allergy, as well as contact dermatitis and/or irritant dermatitis. The healthcare professional uses a combination of medical history, physical exam and various laboratory and clinical tests. Laboratory testing alone is not enough to make a diagnosis.
Patients are encouraged to provide a full list of items and foods that may have caused a latex-allergic reaction to help determine whether latex allergy is present.
How Do You Prevent A Latex Allergy Reaction
Treatment for a latex allergy involves avoidance of the source of latex that causes the reaction.
In the case of IgE-mediated allergy, personal contact with rubber products should be stopped and a change of environment may be necessary if there is airborne exposure causing asthma or occupational asthma.
This is most prominent in settings that use cornstarch powdered latex gloves. Cornstarch powder serves as a carrier for allergenic proteins from latex. It may become airborne when the product is used. These protein particles can easily become airborne and people with latex allergy may experience a reaction if the powder is inhaled or comes in contact with the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose or skin.
Some latex products are more allergenic than others. Latex products most likely to cause a reaction are those made by a dipping method . However, molded, vulcanized rubber products also maintain latex allergen proteins.
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Can I Prevent An Allergic Reaction To Latex
There is no way to prevent a latex allergy, but you may be able to avoid an allergic reaction. If youâre allergic to latex, you should avoid products that contain latex. Before a medical procedure or dental work, tell your providers about your allergy. Ask them to use latex-free gloves and equipment.
When ordering from a restaurant, if you have a severe latex allergy, ask the person who prepares your food to wear latex-free gloves.
Many everyday household items, medical equipment and clothing contain latex. Itâs essential to read labels carefully. You should avoid products that contain latex, including:
- Parts of clothing and shoes, such as elastic in underwear, raincoats and rain boots, and the soles of sneakers or other shoes.
- Items around the house, including rubber bands, carpet backing, and some toys and bandages.
- Personal care items like sanitary napkins, condoms and diaphragms.
- Pacifiers and nipples for baby bottles.
- Some types of makeup, face paint and masks used for costumes.
How Is Latex Allergy Diagnosed
Allergy to latex may be challenging to diagnose and treat.
If you suspect you have a latex allergy, consult an allergist. Be prepared with as much medical history as possible, including where you were and what latex products you were exposed to when you experienced a reaction.
The diagnosis of latex allergy, contact dermatitis and/or irritant dermatitis is made by an allergist after completing these three parts of an evaluation:
- medical history
- physical exam
- various laboratory and clinical tests
Laboratory testing alone is not enough to make a diagnosis. There is a blood test available, but the results are not 100 percent accurate.
Latex-specific IgE antibodies can be identified through skin testing or by blood tests. There is no FDA-approved skin test reagent for latex allergy in the United States.
Contact dermatitis is confirmed by the use of patch testing.
Irritant dermatitis is diagnosed by the patients medical history and a physical examination.
Download:Latex Allergy Screening Questionnaire
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What Are The Symptoms Of Allergic Reactions To Latex
Common early symptoms include swelling, redness and itching after contact with latex items:
- Itchy or swollen lips after blowing up a balloon
- Itchy, red or swollen skin after using a bandage
- Swelling or itching of the mouth or tongue after a dentist uses latex gloves
- Itching or swelling after vaginal or rectal exams
- Itching or swelling after using a condom or diaphragm
People highly allergic to latex may have severe reactions from contact with latex. They may even react to a small amount of latex in the air, such as being in a room near latex balloons or gloves. These more severe reactions can include:
- Breathing problems including asthma symptoms
Anaphylaxis can be severe and life threatening. In rare cases, anaphylaxis to latex can cause death.
Do not ignore symptoms that suggest you may be allergic to latex. Continued contact with latex products can lead to more severe reactions. Prolonged exposure to latex can cause people to develop chronic conditions like occupational asthma.
What Increases The Risk Of Latex Allergy
People who have allergies to foods, such as bananas, chestnuts, kiwi fruit, avocados, and tomatoes, have an increased risk of developing latex allergy. People with latex allergies may develop allergies to these foods because the protein in these foods is similar to the protein in rubber. Latex allergies are also more common in people who have a history of atopic dermatitis, a skin condition that causes intense itching and a red, raised rash.
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What Do You Do If You Have A Latex Allergy
- Wear Medical Identification
- Carry with you at all times:~ Medications, as prescribed by your allergist ~ Non-latex gloves
- ~ Hidden latex on food prepared with latex gloves Lactiferous plants that may have cross-reactive proteins ~ Foods with cross-reactive proteins to natural rubber
- Carry a list of medications prescribed by your allergist
What Is A Latex Allergy And How Many Different Types Of Latex Allergies Exist
Human beings can be allergic to nearly every substance on Earth, and latex is no exception. A latex allergy can result in different signs and symptoms, and in some cases, it can be difficult to correlate these reactions with a latex allergy.
Some people develop allergic reactions after inhaling latex fibers in the air, while others exhibit symptoms after the material comes into contact with their skin. Synthetic latex, such as the one contained in latex paint, wont cause a latex allergy.
Allergies occur when your body has an abnormal reaction to a harmless substance , because your immune system perceives it as a threat. When it comes to a latex allergy, the reaction is usually caused by the proteins found in latex. This type of latex allergy is called IgE-mediated latex allergy . This latex allergy can be severe and life-threatening, and people who suffer from it should avoid latex entirely.
Another type of allergy, called cell-mediated contact dermatitis can also occur as a reaction to latex. This type of allergy is typically milder than a type I latex allergy, and it is caused by hypersensitivity to some of the chemicals that are added to latex during its manufacturing process. It is not uncommon for people who have a type I latex allergy to have previously experienced a type IV allergy.
Skin contact with latex can also cause a condition called irritant contact dermatitis however, this isnt a true allergy. This reaction to latex doesnt involve your immune system.
What Are Typical Latex Allergy Symptoms
As soon as the skin comes into contact with latex or particles enter the respiratory tract, a number of different latex allergy symptoms can emerge, including a latex allergy rash:
In the worst-case scenario, anaphylactic shock can occur. This is when the body releases high amounts of the neurotransmitter histamine, which causes blood vessels to dilate and blood pressure to drop rapidly.
An emergency doctor or paramedic should be contacted as soon as possible. Until they arrive, the allergy sufferer must lie down and keep their legs elevated . If anaphylactic shock is not treated quickly, it can lead to death.
People At The Greatest Risk For A Latex Allergy
The number of healthcare workers affected by latex allergies is much higher than average. In fact, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that between 8 and 17 percent of all healthcare workers have the allergy. The increased use and exposure to latex is thought to be the main reason for the higher rates in this group.
Others who are at increased risk include:
- those with food-related cross-allergies
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How Do Doctors Test For Latex Allergy
- Doctors typically use a blood test to test for latex allergy. Up to 8.2% of people in the United States may get a positive blood test for the presence of latex IgE antibodies.
A positive blood test for latex IgE does not always mean that a person has a latex allergy, however. Latex allergy blood tests can result in false positives in a significant number of people tested for latex. It is estimated that 10% to 25% of people tested may get a false negative result.
- Skin testing is not used for the diagnosis of latex allergy. It has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Non-standard latex reagents used in skin testing can sometimes result in severe allergic reactions.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Latex Allergy Response
The prevalence of latex allergies in health care facilities has been linked to its regular usage of wearing gloves among health care professionals, from physicians, nurses, laboratory workers, and so forth. Additionally, latex application in the health care setting enhances risk to sensitization among exposed patientsthereby causing latex allergy response.
- Direct exposure to latex direct contact with latex gloves, catheters, or condoms is the most common and conventional form of induced latex allergy. Its outcome is directly proportional to the amount of allergen exposure and sensitization.
- Transfer of allergen food handlers using latex gloves are also vehicles for latex allergen transfer. The powdered latex gloves can contaminate the food preparation or handling process thus, causing a reaction to sensitized individuals.
- Airborne particulates of latex allergen powders coming from the rubber latex are easily transmissible when it has been suspended in the air. Hence, patients or individuals who are already sensitized may inhale the particulate allergen, causing an allergic reaction.
Occupational allergy exposure is one of the predisposing factors in developing latex allergy. Additionally, patients who may have undergone numerous medical procedures have an increased risk of sensitization other specific risks factors attributed to latex allergy include:
How Can I Safely Visit A Doctor Or Dentist
Tell them about your latex allergy at least 24 hours before your appointment. The hospital or doctor’s office should have a plan in place so they can use products like nonlatex gloves to treat you.
Ask for the first appointment in the morning. Even if your doctor or dentist uses latex-free gloves for you, there can be latex particles in the air from gloves used with other patients. You’re more likely to avoid these particles by getting there early.
If you have to stay in the hospital, you’ll usually be given your own room, free of products that might give you a reaction.
What Is A Cross
Some people who are allergic to latex may also be allergic to specific foods we call this a cross-reaction. In short, the bodys immune system responds to a food item, producing the same allergic symptoms as would occur with exposure to latex.
Cross-reactions are not the same for all people. While some people react to all foods known to cause a cross-reaction , others may not. In the same way, if someone is allergic to any of the foods listed below, they might also be allergic to latex:
Some fruits strawberries, pineapple, pears, nectarines, cherries, passionfruit, papaya, melons, grapes, figs, plums, peaches, kiwi, bananas, and apples.
Vegetables tomatoes, avocados, celery, carrots, and raw potatoes.
Some nuts hazelnuts and chestnuts.
Some cereals rye and wheat.
Anybody planning to undergo a medical procedure should tell their doctor if they are allergic to any of these foods. There is a risk they may have a cross-reaction to latex.
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Who Is At Risk Of Latex Allergy
Anyone who is exposed to latex may become sensitised fortunately, the majority of individuals do not. However, certain populations are more at risk:
- Rubber-industry workers
- Healthcare workers
- Individuals with congenital urinary anomalies such as children with spina bifida.
- Individuals with a history of sensitivity to certain foods such as banana, avocado, chestnut, tomato, peach or kiwifruit
- Individuals who have undergone multiple medical/surgical procedures
- Individuals with a history of non-medication related anaphylactic reactions during anaesthesia.
Latex Allergy Diagnoses: How To Know If Youre Allergic To Latex
One way to investigate a suspected latex allergy is to visit a doctor. First, a doctor will try to clarify symptoms and causes in a consultation. They will then carry out a skin prick test, blood test and/or then a provocation test to check whether you react to latex allergens for instance, with a latex allergy rash. Depending on whether you have mainly skin or respiratory problems, your doctor will apply allergens to your nasal mucosa or put latex gloves on your hand to screen for reactions.
You can also screen for a possible latex allergy within the comfort of your home. With certain latex allergy tests, you can take a blood sample at home and send it in to specialist laboratories, which then analyse whether your immune system reacts to latex. To do this, it measures the amount of IgE antibodies that the immune system releases when it encounters an allergen.
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What Are The Reactions To Latex
Contact urticaria usually presents with itching and swelling of the skin at the site of contact with latex, for example, hands from wearing gloves, genitals from contact with condoms, and so on. The symptoms usually start within 515 minutes after coming into contact with the latex article, although it can be delayed for several hours. Symptoms can continue for a variable period, from several hours to days after the latex contact has ceased.
Contact dermatitis from latex may take several days to appear. It presents with an itchy, scalyrash, although there may be small blisters if the reaction is acute. The rash will usually last several days to weeks but if exposure to latex continues, the rash will last longer. Contact dermatitis is not generally caused by sensitivity to latex protein but rather to the chemicals used in the manufacture of the latex product, including antioxidants and rubber accelerators thiuram, carbamates, and mercaptobenzothiazole.
Use Alternatives To Prevent Allergy:
You can use some alternatives of latex to prevent its allergic reaction. In studies, it is precisely clear that health workers face this problem more commonly. To prevent them from latex allergy some alternatives are available to prevent this problem.
- The blood pressure cuff is made of latex that can become the reason of latex allergy rash. So try to use natural rubber products so that people can stay away from the allergy of latex.
- Synthetic polyisoprene used in place of latex, silicone, nitriles, and polyurethane can be used in the place of rubber latex products.
- Natural rubber products are preferable in the place of rubber latex.
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Measures Should Be Taken If Your Job Involves Exposure To Latex
If you are latex allergic and your job involves frequent exposure to latex, you should:
- Use latex free gloves.
- Request that non-powdered latex gloves be supplied to others in your area of work. This reduces airborne latex particle exposure, and has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of developing latex allergy in occupational settings.
- Look after your hands and have any irritation or rash evaluated by a doctor. An intact skin barrier reduces the risk of developing latex allergy.
- It is important to note that avoiding any contact with latex is also an effective method of preventing latex allergy, particularly for non-medical use such as food handlers and hairdressers.